The scenic beauty of the Margalla Hills is in jeopardy. Margalla Hills National Park’s vegetation and fauna face grave threats of extinction due to frequent fires and careless visitors who fling rubbish with impunity.
Margalla Hills National Park (MHNP) covers an area of 17,386 hectares and features six trails (hiking tracks). Four of these are open to the public, and the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board reported that over 17,000 regular hikers and casual sightseers visit each week (IWMB).
Regular hikers arrive with a sense of purpose and take responsibility for trash prevention. However, most visitors take a day out of their hectic schedules and leave behind trash that includes plastic bottles, wrappers, tins, juice cartons, shopping bags, and other dangerous items.
According to the IWMB, the MHNP is the third-largest national park in the world. It is home to various wildlife, including 38 mammalian species, 350 bird species, 32 reptile species, 9 amphibian species, and 650 plant species.
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The fires that erupt regularly in this natural wonder have a devastating effect on the vegetation and fauna. In April 2021 alone, the park experienced over a half-dozen fire accidents, killing a considerable number of birds during their prime mating season; IWMB Manager Operations Sakhawat Ali expressed regret. The official blamed the local timber mafia for most of the fires and visitors for the remainder. These individuals like barbecuing or lighting fires for recreational purposes and do not care to extinguish them before leaving the area properly.
He vowed to continue educating visitors about the need of protecting the park, which serves as the scenic identity of the federal capital. Ali stated that a 12-member team was assigned to focus on the four active paths regarding the board’s safety procedures. Meanwhile, 38 park rangers have been assigned to oversee wildlife preservation and monitoring in the park’s field regions.
He said CCTV cameras were erected at the trailheads as part of the capital’s Safe City program.
Meanwhile, British High Commissioner to Pakistan Christian Turner shared a photo on social media of himself carrying two rubbish bags from Margalla Hills.
This gesture went viral on social media and fueled attempts to preserve the MHNP’s natural character. The scenic beauty of the Margalla Hills is in jeopardy.
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